X-Men: First Class Directed by: Matthew Vaughn Written by: Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman, & Matthew Vaughn Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, and Kevin Bacon
Following up his post-modern polarizer Kick-Ass, Matthew Vaughn has decided to make an actual superhero movie. Not only that, but he also decides to make an origin story. It’s hard not to doubt his sincerity, because he had such gleeful fun deconstructing the genre in his blood-splattered last feature.
X-Men: First Class is nowhere near as bleak and melancholy as the original two films directed by Bryan Singer. It takes place in the 60s at the height of the Cold War, with its groovy suits and groovier language. James McAvoy seems to be the only one equipped with that vocabulary, though. Waltzing onto the university scene as a physics professor who also takes shots in the bar with his students, this isn’t the dry, wheelchair-confined Professor Xavier that you’re used to.
Fish Tank Directed by: Andrea Arnold Written by: Andrea Arnold (screenplay) Starring: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Harry Treadaway, and Kierston Wareing
Beginning with a head-on view of its protagonist surrounded by the blue walls of an abandoned apartment, Fish Tank explains its title almost right off the bat. Mia, the 15-year-old girl occupying that frame, takes a little bit longer to get to know, though.
Director Andrea Arnold laces this confrontational tale of emerging adulthood and sexuality with vulgar language and despicable acts; more importantly, though, she fills it to the brim with sympathy. Though Mia (Katie Jarvis) lives in the slums of Essex with her abusive mother and equally vulgar sister, she’ll be the first to tell you she’s not a victim. In the first ten minutes, she headbutts a girl just for having the nerve to argue back at her and she attempts to free an imprisoned horse from a band of gypsies.
Jonah Hex Directed by: Jim Hayward Written by: Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor (screenplay) Starring: Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, Megan Fox, and Michael Fassbender
We must face it: the comic book adaptation is here to stay. You can bet your (kick-) ass that any character that’s ever been drawn to a page to tell a story along with words will eventually get its Hollywood due. So step right up for Jonah Hex, yet another unknown adaptation from an allegedly brilliant source material.
Hex begins compellingly different than most of its counterparts. We begin almost immediately at our title character’s (Josh Brolin) moment of dire straits. Rather than have that Utopian, dull first few scenes with bright colors, giggling children, and adoring spouse, we see arch nemesis (Jon Malkovich) light them all on fire. One thing that can be said of Jonah Hex, if not much else, is that it doesn’t bull-shit you with its pretentious morality. The script may try to hint at a soul within our weary anti-hero, but Brolin quells it rather quickly.